Jamestown resident honored for western arts involvement


JAMESTOWN — Jamestown resident, writer, speaker and performer Gery L. Deer was honored July 29 during the 20th Annual American Western Arts Showcase at the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville.

Deer received the Alex Green Memorial Award for excellence in promoting, perpetuating, and teaching the western arts over the last two decades. The award was presented by the co-producer of the show, Kirk Bass, of Xenia, supported by the rest of the cast and crew of the long-running Wild West show.

Deer’s primary western arts work has been teaching the whip as a sport and performance art. He’s instructed hundreds of actors, stunt performers, and hobbyists over than 30 years and founded The Whip Artistry Studio, the only permanent facility in the U.S. dedicated to the non-combative study of the whip.

His award was named for the late Australian stuntman Alex Green, who was a 40-year veteran of television and film stunt work, particularly with the whip. Green was one of the founders of the Wild West Arts Club (WWAC), where Deer earned early recognition as a national bullwhip speed and accuracy champion. The two became good friends and Deer has tried to continue the spirit of those early events by showing the whip in a positive light of sport and performing art.

“My goal has always been to teach and expose young people to these uniquely American skills,” Deer said. “I’m beyond humbled by the award my friends, no, my family have presented to me. It means more than I have words to convey and I’m forever grateful.” In addition to the honorarium, earlier the same day, Deer also won first place in the two-handed bullwhip speed and accuracy competition, called the “Speed Switch.”

Deer started the American Western Arts Showcase started in 2002 with a whip cracking workshop and exhibition presentations and has produced the event ever since. In 2003, the program moved to the Annie Oakley Festival in Greenville, and was retooled to become the Ohio Regional Convention of the Wild West Arts Club and offered whip, knife throwing, and trick roping contests, stunt demonstrations, stage performances, and more.

When the WWAC closed in 2007, Deer and company continued the showcase portion and kept the whip contests, which were even more popular with crowds than the performances. After 20 years, and hundreds of performances, the 2023 season marks the final production of the show at the Annie Oakley Festival.

For more information about western arts performances and training, visit www.thewhipartistrystudio.com.

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